Best's treasures net €230,000
Family's distress at forced sale of collection
THE sister of legendary footballing genius George Best was said to be "devastated" last night after being forced to sell off a unique treasure trove of the great player's memorabilia to pay his debts.
Almost five years after his death, a collection of medals, trophies and awards amassed by the Manchester United star raised €227,000 (stg£200,000) when it went under the auctioneer's hammer yesterday.
The sale included Best's coveted 1968 European Cup winner's medal, which went for a staggering €177,200. The proceeds will go to his sister, Barbara McNarry.
Last night, Mrs McNarry's husband, Norman, said they hoped the proceeds would be sufficient to meet the liabilities of his brother-in-law's estate.
"We are extremely sorry that the last tangible link we had to George has now gone," Mr McNarry told the Irish Independent.
"The situation we find ourselves in has caused a huge amount of regret and Barbara is absolutely devastated."
McNarry said he believed that a number of the items sold at the Bonhams auction in Chester, Wales, "might be on the road back to Ireland".
He and Barbara hoped that they could further their work at the George Best Foundation, which they set up following the player's death in November 2005. It raises funds to combat liver disease.
Best's gross estate was £525,680 but after debts had been settled, the net value was slashed. He drew up his will when he was still married to Alex Best but never updated it.
His son Calum was said to be particularly disappointed after he was left only an engraved Jean Lassel commemorative world cup watch.
At yesterday's auction, the top-selling lot was Best's 1968 European Cup winner's medal, which was presented to the player following Manchester United's 4-1 victory over Benfica at Wembley in 1968.
It had attracted a pre-sale estimate of up to €140,000 but was snapped up by a private European buyer at more than €30,000 above the pre-auction estimate.
The medal was among 13 awards presented to Best during an illustrious career that were put up for auction at the behest of the executors of his estate.
A replica of the medal, which Best misplaced, was sold for €10,200, while a BBC Lifetime Achievement Award, given to Best in 2002, went for €8,860.
Other important lots sold included a limited edition of the George Best Faberge egg, which commemorated the part he played in the victory over Benfica and which went for €28,620.
Others included the 2000 Belfast Telegraphy Hall of Fame award, which fetched €5,450; a Northern Ireland shirt worn by Best in November 1973, which went for €6,810.
Also auctioned were his 2000 International Hall of Champions award, sold for €4,500, and the Freedom of Castlereagh award, which was bought for €5,180.
The sale also featured the shirt worn by legendary Brazilian footballer Pele in his final international appearance against Yugoslavia in July 1971, which made €9,800, and a collection of memorabilia donated by Muhammad Ali.